A sudden loss of pressure

Chris Pattison has been in touch. Chris, you’ll remember, is the wonderful historian charting the history of South Staffordshire Water, who has made such great moves in helping local historians like myself, Kate Cardigan, David Moore and Ian Pell to bring local water and railway history to life.

Chris has found some wonderful images which have been featured here before – the enclosure of Shire Oak Reservoir, the lifting of the main in Brownhills, and of course, the great tale of the lost surge stack.

Well, he’s done it again. Here’s an article taken from in-house South Staffordshire Water documents about a burst in the main between Wood Green and Lichfield, that occurred at 7am on 19th February 1961. It took place on the South Staffordshire Line between Lichfield and Hammerwich, and Chris is keen to pinpoint the exact location. If you can help, please do comment.

I thank Chris for this – like Gareth Thomas and his groundbreaking work at Lichfield District Council, it’s great to see large organisations interfacing and helping record local history with amateur meddlers like me.

I have another piece on this to run later in the week, which gives more technical detail, so stay tuned…

Railway Burst 4

This must have been a stunning thing to witness. Good job a train didn’t come… Image very kindly supplied by Chris Pattison and South Staffordshire Water.


On Thursday, 19th January, a serious fracture occurred on the 24″ cast iron pumping main from Sandfields Pumping Station to Wood Green, about half a mile north of Hammerwich Station.

This main was laid in 1858 or thereabouts and is of the original works of the Company. It is laid alongside the railway Lichfield to Walsall and the burst occurred at a point where the main is laid on the top of an embankment about 30ft. high adjacent to a railway over bridge. The escaping I away a section of the embankment adjacent to a railway over bridge. The escaping water washed away a section of the embankment adjacent to the bridge causing  large cavity about 20 ft. across and some 25 ft. deep and undermining both railway tracks and exposing the main.

Immediate action in accordance with prior arrangements was taken to warn British Railways when the drop in pressure occurred and railway traffic was stopped without any mishap.

The cavity in the embankment was refilled by British Railways in slightly over 24 hours and the length of main over the repaired section of embankment, being slung on 45 ft. long mild steel joist to protect it against settlement.

Normal pumping was restored within 48 hours of the occurrence.

Under the terms of the agreement relating to this main, the Company is responsible to the Commission for the cost of all repairs, together with the cost of delays in traffic and alternative road services for passenger traffic.

This matter is in the hands of the company’s Insurers.

Railway Burst 1

That’s a lot of embankment to wash away. The mess must have been huge. Image very kindly supplied by Chris Pattison and South Staffordshire Water.

Railway Burst 2

Does anyone remember this? It must have had quite an impact on Hammerwich. Image very kindly supplied by Chris Pattison and South Staffordshire Water.

Railway Burst 3

I guess the water must have ended up in the Crane Brook, an important drainage channel. Image very kindly supplied by Chris Pattison and South Staffordshire Water.

This entry was posted in Brownhills stuff, Environment, Events, Followups, Interesting photos, Local Blogs, Local History, Local media, News, Reader enquiries, Shared media, Shared memories, Social Media, Spotted whilst browsing the web and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

9 Responses to A sudden loss of pressure

  1. Pedro says:

    Meanwhile back in Sep of 1895 the SS Water Company half-yearly meeting…

    The Chairman speaking of critism of the companies due to serious interruption of services due to frost…throughout the district they had taken up and relaid some 9 miles of main that had burst in consequence of the severity of last winter, and, as the length of a main was only 9ft that represented more than five thousand mains, which were fractured by frost. The effect was seen in almost every line of the accounts…

  2. Vance Wasdell says:

    Hi,there is an occupation overbridge about 500 yards from the site of Hammerwich Station in the Lichfield direction and this looks very like it still does,the first photo clearly shows a bridge parapet.There is a public footpath under the bridge leading off Coppice Lane,might be possible to take photos from the same spots and do a then and now comparison,hope this helps.
    regards Cllr Vance Wasdell(Chairman Hammerwich Parish Council)

  3. David Coldicott says:

    This link should direct you to an article about the South Staffordshire Water Wood Green Depot and pumping station. The pumping station was a re-pumping booster station taking water from the Wood Green to Lichfield water main. This may be of interest.

  4. Clive says:

    Great photos and info Chris, many thanks.

  5. Pingback: Water, water everywhere and not a drop to drink… | BrownhillsBob's Brownhills Blog

  6. Pingback: Now departed | BrownhillsBob's Brownhills Blog

  7. Pingback: A film on the water | BrownhillsBob's Brownhills Blog

  8. Pingback: A desperate attempt to stave-off bankruptcy | BrownhillsBob's Brownhills Blog

  9. Pingback: Voices from the past: Our part in making cholera history | BrownhillsBob's Brownhills Blog

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.